Bohjalian’s novels are varied and compelling

At the Library with Denise Corey

Published on March 17, 2017

At the Library with Denise Corey

It’s great to find an author after they’ve put out several books so you have a back catalogue from which to select. In the past few years, I’ve discovered Christopher Bohjalian.

Bohjalian writes character-driven novels that tend to focus on particular issues. Every book is focused on a different issue, which means that every book is a different reading experience.  

Currently my book club is reading The Light in the Ruins, a murder mystery set in Italy in World War II and 1955.  

A heinous murder in 1955 traces back to what a family did during the war.  

One of my absolute favourite Bohjalian books is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Set in the near future, it is the story of Emily, a 14-year-old girl who sometimes lives on the streets and sometimes lives with a drug dealer who acts as her pimp. Her parents are dead from a nuclear plant meltdown that happened a year before that may have been her dad’s fault.  

And to top it off she’s taken on the care of a nine-year-old boy.  

Another haunting book by Bohjalian is The Guest Room, about a bachelor party that goes terribly, terribly wrong! Richard lets his brother use his house for his bachelor party. He thinks his younger brother is vapid and skeegy so he expects there will be strippers and the regular debauchery.

What follows is the strippers (who are in reality Russian sex slaves) kill their guards and escape.  Richard – a middle age investment banker – and his wife Kristin have to deal with the fallout of the police investigation and the media focus. And 19-year-old Alexandra, an Armenian girl forced into the sex trade, has to find her way in the world with no money, family, or passport.

And just when you think you have Bohjalian pegged, you find out he’s also written a ghost story, The Night Strangers. Captain Chip Linton survives and is traumatized by a tragic plane crash. He suffers from PTSD and his family is trying to help him deal with it. Part of what they choose to do is move to an old Victorian home in New Hampshire, far away from where they were living. The women who befriend them in their new town are a group of "herbalists" who have a nefarious interest in Chip's twin daughters.

One of his earlier books, the 1997 novel Midwives, is about Sibyl, a midwife whose patient dies during an emergency C-section. In the aftermath her methods, knowledge, and abilities are questioned.

Bohjalian’s novels are varied and compelling. I highly recommend picking up a novel by this fantastic author.  

Don’t forget the library’s public meeting on April 6 to discuss our funding shortfall. Find out how the library is funded and whether we will have to reduce hours and/or close a location. You can find more information on our funding situation on our website:


Denise Corey is the chief librarian for the Cumberland Public Libraries.